Developing Future Leaders: Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

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Company leaders can begin planning how to move staff members from “doers” to leaders as early as their first year on the job, or even before their first day on the job.

Jason Yetterdeputy from Englewood, Colorado Richey May (FY21 net income of $46.7 million), an IPA 100 company, and Tamera Loerzel, associate with ConvergenceCoachingSee the best results when company professionals are quickly identified and trained at every step. Sheila Enriquezdeputy for Houston-based Briggs & Veselka before it merged with Raven In 2022, she showed her potential at her first company by voluntarily taking on larger and larger projects, learning from mentors, and flourishing in a partner training program that ultimately led her to the top position.

Companies can’t hire or retain enough employees (it’s a perennial problem that has only gotten worse in recent years), so the “busyness” of the daily routine can derail the development of star employees into future employees. leaders. they can stop the development of their stars in their future replacements. Although companies know that investing now will pay off in the future, leadership training can be fraught with preventable pitfalls if current leaders wait too long.

Here are some observations from Yetter, Loerzel and Enriquez.

Still: self first, company second, team third

Richey May begins searching for potential leaders during the interview process by asking candidates questions about their behavior in various situations. An example: Tell me about a time when she was working on a team with someone who was not performing well. What steps did you take? What happened in the end? “That gives us a good advantage,” she says.

The company then commits to conducting personalized, non-technical training every month: one for associates and one for managers. Richey May isn’t big enough to do all the training himself, so he uses Leading Edge Alliance at lower levels and The Partner Institute, a three-year program from The Growth Partnership, for higher-level professionals who show aptitude. to become partners. The company spends “well over six figures” annually on The Partner Institute alone.

In all cases, Yetter believes that high-performing people must understand why they behave the way they do, how the company operates as a business, and how to lead teams. In that order.

“This is my fundamental principle in leadership training: you simply have to start with yourself. You need to understand yourself so you can begin to develop the skills necessary to lead effectively. If you don’t know who you are, how you lead, what your traits are, what you’re best at and what you’re not so good at, you have no chance of leading teams and ultimately managing firm responsibilities. “

Tips for business leaders

  • Find the tools for talented professionals to learn how they work, like 360-degree assessments and DiSC personality profiles.
  • Read 5 dysfunctions of a team by Patricio Lencioni.
  • Double down on communications training to help managers more effectively lead hybrid or remote teams.
  • Don’t focus on billable hours, focus on long-term ROI. “Why would you consider this investment any different than IT or laptop upgrades? I know it sounds a little trite, but how is it different? It’s not.”
  • Track progress by monitoring how emerging leaders interact with teams and manage projects.
  • Play the long game. It takes patience but the rewards will come. “You see them come in when they were 23 and then 10 years later, they’re amazing people.”

Loerzel: Identify career range Roads

Among the many training initiatives at ConvergenceCoaching are its Senior and Supervisor Leadership Development Program and its Transformational Leadership Program® (TLP) for “high potential” directors/managers, key managers and new partners.

Like Yetter, Loerzel believes companies should play an active role in identifying high-potential team members before training programs begin. “It’s easier to do if we develop leadership skills at a basic level with everyone much earlier.” Who are the technical geniuses, the visionaries, the exceptional customer service providers, or the top motivators on team projects? Show staff that they have multiple career paths and nurture them along the way, she says.

Self-awareness is one of the keys to the TLP program, revealed through input from your superiors, staff and peers and a personality assessment. Participants must perform a SWOT analysis and choose three objectives, with at least one being a leadership behavior objective. A strong mentor can encourage promising leaders to use their new skills by speaking up and contributing their ideas, delegating work, and developing other members of their team. “Transformation happens when they find their voice and their unique contribution to the company,” says Loerzel.

Tips for business leaders

  • Change the way you think about remote work. Loerzel agrees with Josh Bersin, who says, “Abandon the idea that your invisible workers aren’t working.” Instead, set clear expectations about outcomes and learn how to build strong relationships virtually.
  • Moderate your concentration. Technical experience is required, but not for everyone. “One of the challenges we see time and time again is that we scare ‘people’ away because they think, ‘I don’t fit in here.’ “
  • Don’t worry about highlighting high performers. “If they are above, if they are producing results, if they are starting, we should do something special for them, so we have to overcome that.”
  • Understand the 70/20/10 rule and apply it in your companies. Knowledge comes 70% from experiences and assignments, 20% from relationships, and 10% from courses and training, according to the Center for Creative Leadership.
  • Make goals measurable, including behavioral goals.
  • Say yes to new ideas. “Members have to be willing to be guided and accept the ideas they receive, whether it’s from our program or from a conference, it doesn’t matter.” Rejecting a proposal from a newly trained professional is the number one way to kill your motivation.

Enríquez: teach to learn and transmit it

Enriquez is now Crowe’s Texas market leader and director of DEI, but early in her career she believed she had a lot to prove as a first-generation immigrant while arriving in the United States from the Philippines on a student visa. Since then, he earned a law degree alongside her CPA and her MBA, a credit to her own drive to improve, bolstered by mentors who believed in her and leadership training that transformed her. .

Enriquez worked hard at his first company, completing tasks and continually taking on more, but he never considered himself someone who could build businesses. When she came to Briggs & Veselka, then-MP John Flatowicz took her to client meetings and taught her that it’s about helping, not selling. “To be honest, I even wondered if I had what it took.”

When she was newly promoted as a director in 2009, she underwent three years of training through the accounting association BKR, a true turning point that led her to apply her experiences at the firm, consolidating everything she had learned. “The epiphany for me was when I realized that if I developed others and had the best people around me (and I learned that from my mentors), then the pie would be bigger. “It’s a growth mindset rather than a fixed, limited mindset.”

Enriquez believes strongly in finding future leaders at the intersection of skills, passion and business needs. “If you find that, and I’ve experienced it, that’s where I feel the magic happens because now you have a motivated person who meets the needs of the company and is good at it.”

She continues to invest in leadership by teaching and mentoring others. “I love this profession so much that I feel like I want to give back.”

Tips for business leaders:

  • Teach non-technical skills at all levels and allow staff to try different things. Your preferences may not be clear to you at first.
  • Read The Reluctant Seller by Terry Mullins and The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
  • Serve as an example. “As a leader, you also have to be there, in the trenches, with the people you lead. Many times we have to be the first to roll up our sleeves and then they will follow you.”
  • Teach potential leaders how to lead without the title. Accounting professionals are prepared to learn technical details, but company supervisors can also teach staff to “lead from their seats.” Enríquez remembers: “I took responsibility, I raised my hand and the partners relied on me for things beyond my job.”
  • Ensure inclusion. Throughout her career, company leaders have allowed her a flexible schedule to accommodate raising her children and have supported her desire to learn more and earn advanced degrees. “I could put my whole being into work.”
  • Understand that training alone is not enough. “For me, it’s not enough to just have training, you have to have support and sponsorship, and that comes in the form of mentoring and coaching, which is super critical because that’s where you have a one-on-one relationship with someone. invested in you.”

This article originally appeared in the April 2023 issue of INSIDE Public Accounting Monthly. To subscribe, Click here.